Martin Skrelunas

Recent Articles

Town Officials Seek Details on Nature Center’s Finances, Use of Buildings

[Editor’s Note: After hearing concerns from someTown Building Evaluation and Use Committee members that their comments had been taken out of context, we added a full and unedited audio file from this portion of the public meeting to the top of this article.]

With an eye on prioritizing capital maintenance and spending, officials say they’re seeking detailed information from the New Canaan Nature Center about how the organization’s various programs use the town-owned buildings that form its campus. The Nature Center uses one set of books for its entire business–including financially successful enterprises such as camp and a popular nursery school—though it isn’t clear just now whether capital investments earmarked for the Oenoke Ridge Road campus are commensurate with those revenue-drivers, according to members of a committee that’s studying town-owned buildings throughout New Canaan. “What we are trying to do is find out whether there is an opportunity for the town to use resources better, and then make informed decisions about where we should do that,” Amy Murphy Carroll, co-chair of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee, said at the group’s most recent meeting. “So for instance, the gift shop—there is a revenue line for that of X amount—it’s really pretty minimal and there is lot of space for the gift shop,” Carroll said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Appointed in February, the committee’s members also include Penny Young (co-chair), Ben Bilus (secretary), Neil Budnick, Bill Holmes, Christa Kenin and Martin Skrelunas. Continue Reading →

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‘You Literally Just Salivate’: Officials Evaluating Town Buildings See Potential in Waveny House

Known to generations of New Canaanites as the elegant host site of weddings, banquets and fundraisers, Waveny House also has largely untapped areas that could serve new uses, officials say. Recreation and public works officials have done a “phenomenal job” of clearing the 17,000-square-foot attic of post-prom props and other items that have collected there for years, according to Bill Holmes, a member of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee. “When we go up there, you literally just salivate,” Holmes said during the committee’s April 10 meeting, held at Town Hall. “The space is beautiful. There are skylights.”

Part of a two-person team studying the 1912-built town-owned building, together with committee co-chair Penny Young, Holmes added: “The notes we are making as we went through the basement, there are so many rooms with beautiful natural light from all the wells and depressions outside. Continue Reading →

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‘Pop Up Park’ Organizers Eye Extended Summer Season Downtown

The organizers of New Canaan’s ‘Pop Up Park’ downtown will seek permission to run it continuously from July 16 to Sept. 4. If approved by the Police Commission, the dates—from just after the Sidewalk Sale through Labor Day—would expand by several weeks the longest continuous run for the Pop Up Park, which was in place for three straight weeks last August. Tucker Murphy, an advisor to the Pop Up Park Steering Committee from the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, said many visitors were disappointed last year when the park—located on South Avenue between Morse Court and Elm Street—was disassembled before what turned out to be a beautiful Labor Day weekend. The committee is “trying to build upon last year while still recognizing that some of the merchants and some people have concerns about traffic flow,” Murphy said. Continue Reading →

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Newly Appointed Town Building Committee Elects Officers, Sets Priorities

A committee charged with evaluating the uses, condition and future needs of town-owned buildings decided Monday to start its work by figuring out what data points it must have to conduct an analysis and make recommendations. Ultimately, the work of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee is expected to help officials prioritize taxpayer funding for competing capital projects—a job made more difficult without a basis for comparison, according to Amy Murphy Carroll, a committee member elected as co-chair of the group during its first meeting. “There is a lot of information for all these buildings,” Carroll said during the meeting, held in a board room at Town Hall. “What I am seeing is that we have all these buildings—the Nature Center and whatever—but I don’t feel we have a good sense of how they are used.”

With institutional knowledge and documentation from Department of Public Works officials in hand—such as each building’s operating expenses and an estimation of future capital needs—two-person “teams” from within the seven-member committee could made field visits to the various structures and collect all the desired information, Carroll said. “So then we have ‘This is the state of our building,’ This is what it needs,’ ‘This is how we use it’ and ‘This is how the town uses it,’ ” she said. Continue Reading →

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Selectmen Appoint Committee To Study Uses and Capital Needs of New Canaan’s Public Buildings

Town officials on Tuesday dissolved a volunteer committee tasked one year ago with studying New Canaan’s use of Waveny House and appointed what amounts to a successor group that will carry out the same work but more broadly, evaluating and making recommendations on a number of public buildings. The Board of Selectmen during a regular meeting voted 3-0 to form the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee “to evaluate over a six-month period the uses, physical condition and future capital needs” of structures such as the former Teen Center, Vine Cottage and Irwin Park main house. The newly appointed group will “not have to start from scratch” because enough studies are “in the book to lay the groundwork,” First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “It’s important that we look at it holistically and everything is on the table. If there is a use that isn’t fitting for a certain building, we will take input from them. Continue Reading →

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